By Sr. Sofia Mamani CCVI
The Annual Assembly of the Kawsay Network, a network of consecrated life in Peru against human trafficking, was held in Lima from May 25 to 28, 2023. 32 sisters from the 26 Congregations belonging to the Network gathered to analyze and reflect on the reality of human trafficking in Peru.
We started with different opportunities for encounter and friendship. On the first day, after a very experiential prayer, we received a presentation from Italy. This sister shared with us her experiences in the ministry of accompanying victims of trafficking. She challenged us to listen and look around us, who are the people close to us who might be experiencing slavery? So many of the survivors of human trafficking were victims of false job offers and mostly very impacted by economic poverty. Sister shared with us that this ministry is arduous, needs to be constant, and includes risks. This ministry requires networking because most of the offenders are well organized networked criminals. She challenged us to be very courageous in accompanying the families who are looking for their missing relatives among them children and women.
The reality of human trafficking in Peru is sad. For example, it was shared with us that the national budget for the fight against human trafficking is 0.05. With this amount, it is clear that the institutions responsible for stopping the crime of human trafficking cannot rescue the people who are victims of this crime. Furthermore, as most Peruvians experience, the laws seem to be only on paper. Listening to testimonies of survivors of this scourge is painful because it is a theft of dreams and plans of girls, boys, adolescents, young people and especially women (80%). Many women in my country are being treated as if they were things.
During these days of assembly we affirm once again that we reject that people are treated as " mercancía," that we will stand by the victims of human trafficking, and given the lack of adequate attention to the process of restitution of dignity and rights, we urge the national government and public entities, to:
- Guarantee the protection, care, and welfare of the victim and access to justice.
- Train justice operators to receive and facilitate the process of restoration of their rights.
- Provide housing or shelters with specialized personnel for victims of human trafficking over 18 years of age where they feel safe and protected, where they can be empowered and achieve their integration.
- Improve the functioning of the prosecution, criminal sanction and control system to combat the crime of human trafficking.
It was really painful to hear so much deceit, exploitation, and indifference. Certainly, we ended up very touched to see so much vulnerability in a crime that seems unseen by many people. Also, as Red Kawsay we dreamed that together we could open a house in Lima to welcome survivors over the age of 18. We have that challenge and hope. Several of us are already in the process, and it is still necessary that some of us or our Congregations accept the responsibility of leadership. Accompanying survivors is a task that involves multiple disciplines. The call is there. I believe that each of our Congregations could offer something and together we could respond to God's cry.